Friday, October 28, 2011

Refresher Course In Politics

With his tousled hair, the questioner looked like a Rip Van Winkle who was rudely interrupted from his long siesta to do some productive work. Rising just in time to catch the tail end of Low Thia Khiang's speech, he asked: "My question is, in what way does he think the field is not level for the opposition party?"

Mr Low made it easy enough for a 4-year-old to understand, "To cut it short, simply put it, that the GRC system is something which has not given the opposition a level playing field." One member sitting directly behind Low was visibly trying to stifle his snicker. Man, how long has the guy been sleeping?

By now, every kid in a Singapore school knows what gerrymander is. It is the root cause why you get to see your MP only once a year. Why should he or she bother to visit the constituents if the electoral boundaries are re-drawn every time before a general election is conducted? Why risk a health hazard by shaking hands with a fishmonger or pork seller (depending on the story telling) when one could be clinking champagne glasses at a "good class bungalow" ward?

It was the nineteen-century Governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry, who has given his name to a practice that undermines democracy. He is said to have drawn up a district map of the United States. A cartoonist then satirized the shape of one electoral region by adding a head, wings, and claws and declaring, 'That will do for a salamander.' Another retorted, 'Gerrymander'. Thus a word was born that refers to a practice of manipulating electoral districts unfairly in order to secure disproportionate representation. ("Dining With Terrorists", Phil Rees, Pan Macmillan 2005, page 187).

It may be argued that even with the advantages of carving up the country to give one political party a majority in many districts while concentrating the voting strength of the other party into as few districts as possible, a SMC candidate still has to put in some token effort as some core residents may not have been afftected by the geographical redistribution. Not so the GRC guy. The chap who was introduced with much pomp and ceremony in one constituency can end up parachuting into another kilometers away in a wink of an eye. And guaranteed a ride into parliament. Such is the level playing field in local politics.

15 comments:

  1. Poor Singaporean10/28/2011 9:28 AM

    I wonder what the majority talk about after each session. Do they pat themselves on the shoulder for a job well done or reflect on how they can do better?

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  2. Not only in politics. There is also no level playing field in NS, i.e. white horse policy. There is no level playing field in business, i.e. SME vs MNC and GLC and MNC vs GLC. There is no level playing field in academia, i.e. those PAP members or related academia. There is no level playing field in schooling, neighborhood school vs elite school. This place is about who you know and not what you know in most situation. There are many many cases. Meritocracy is just for name sake.

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  3. Many people still have no idea why gerrymandering is bad or how it can seriously skew the outcome of an election. I shall use the following example to demonstrate how a minority party can gerrymander itself to achieve super majority in an election. Assume there are 100 votes and 10 districts of 10 votes each. In the extreme, the following outcome can be manipulated with the help of modern electoral engineering.

    6-4
    6-4
    6-4
    6-4
    6-4
    6-4
    6-4
    1-9
    1-9
    1-9
    ----
    45-55

    As you can see, a party receiving 45 out of 100 votes can potentially win 7 out of 10 districts. PAP’s control of 93% of the parliament is due to years of relentless electoral engineering efforts to deny and suppress oppositions. They also employ other methods: total control of MSM, use of ISA, bankruptcies, exiles, HDB upgrades, official secrets act, etc to maintain their power.

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  4. merrytocracy - they also argue that their candidate are equally affected.
    so in the end they are just using the voters as chips to an end.
    what's new? lky outlaw everything, lhl outgame everything.
    life is not fair they say. not happy go occupy elsewhere.
    lets see how they will redraw the electoral ground of aljunied come 2016 with new citizens.

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  5. Is anyone shocked like me, to see that the subsequent parliament sittings are soooo empty?! I think is time to question if MP should be a full time job. How can they possibly be paid so much to do a weekend job while holding a full time job..no wonder they have no time to listen to the people.
    I would rather have halved the MPs and turn them all into committed full time than to have 80+ part time MPs who give mixed bag results..

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  6. In other parliaments, it is always packed with MPs. Debates are likely and objective. Here n Singapore, nobody bothers to come. Even the cameramen try to point their cameras on one position so as not to expose too many empty seats. What a shame. Perhaps the PM should insist on full attendance unless attending important official businesses.

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  7. MIW politicians, esp our PM have the easiest jobs in the world.

    - Handful of opposition MPs can dust them off easily
    - Part-time job
    - MPS can mostly run by grassroots
    - Work with PPS/CivilService to get policy out then defend like hell and take credit
    - Multiple directorships for more part-time money on GLCs
    - Multiple fellowships in local education institution
    - Life time pension after retirement
    - Million dollar package + bonus + stock options all tied to GLCs and GDPs
    - No major catastrophe - nuclear, flood, quake, typhoon etc
    - No rally, dissents to deal with etc since they're outlawed
    - No welfare since every man for himself/family
    - No freedom info act so no need to account to people who can't questioned them

    It is by far the easiest govt to run in the whole wide world..
    Then think about ALL the problems other leaders of the world have to deal with, plus how much they are paid to do a lot more. Then you'll realize how much "fake terror threat, political threat, stability threat, job threat" etc etc they like to bandy and create just to give us all false stability, and false unity. You want life in the 'real world'? Is not found here.

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  8. That is why he ask whether we want to be an 'exceptional' or 'ordinary' country mah.

    Me think we are just an 'exceptionally ordinary" city.
    When nobody pays them any compliments, they decide to pay themselves lor. To refresh citizens mind that they are the lagi best ones. Close one eyes also can auto-pilot since they say all the sum of all the parts already in place. We the nuts-n-bolts, they the screwdriver.

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  9. //"My question is, in what way does he think the field is not level for the opposition party?"//

    Is that same thing as Shanmugam or Indranee asking Pritam "In what way does he think the mainstream media is controlled by government?"

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  10. How do you explain it to someone who has won his lottery by stroking a lucky ducky that brought him good luck, and that anyone could do the same - if only Mr Low would believe in aladdin lamp too?

    It worked for him, and it certainly worked for an unknown Dr Chia Shiu Lu who overnight, became the instant-millionaire (oops I mean MP) when you woke up one morning.

    Now everyone, stop whining & at least go get a lucky ducky or an aladdin lamp will you?

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  11. How to be the best paid MP/MIW/Ministar ?

    Just deny problem exists, and collect millions and thousands ... but this can only happen in SinCity.

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  12. In our general election, the way the voters are separated into voting precints would have given our incumbent govt enough clues to prepare for the next election boundaries. Otherwise how to explain why they need to change the boundaries come every election.

    To put it simply, gerrymandering is just another form of cheating at the polls. And they are simply not shameful to use it either.

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  13. WP must fight hard in parliament to abolish the GRC system. It is for the long term good of SG.

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  14. "With his tousled hair, the questioner looked like a Rip Van Winkle who was rudely interrupted from his long siesta to do some productive work."
    LOL! I love the way u describe that retard! Langgar!

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